April 25th and 26th saw the Materials 2017 event at London’s ILEC Centre, Earl’s Court, the latest new exhibition to launch to connect building specifiers with the latest solutions. My visit early doors on the Wednesday gave me the opportunity to take a look around stands including Sika, Armstrong Ceilings and ROCKFON while the coast was clear, and take advantage of the seminar programme.
The late morning seminar by Recticel (@RecticelInsulUK), followed by a related session by SPIE UK (@SPIEgroup), demonstrated what’s great about events like Materials 2017 – the chance for specifiers, designers, consultants and anyone in the industry to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Recticel, the Belgian insulation manufacturer that’s going great guns in the UK having only relatively recently entered the market, took us back to basics before looking forward with their presentation ‘The future of cavity wall construction’ by Technical Services Manager, Paul Forrester.
Having explained the subtle differences between full fill and partial fill insulation boards for cavity walls, it was interesting to see how relatively simple innovations, such as allowing for a small gap for bricklayers to work quicker and easier, can make a real difference to speed of construction. There was also some useful guidance on how to maintain good insulation levels on corner joints and around cavity trays and other obstructions.
The presentation that followed by SPIE UK was much bigger picture stuff. George Adams, Director of Energy & Engineering at SPIE UK, delivered a fascinating presentation about why we all need to think in a circular fashion, rather than in a linear one, to address the global environmental and resource-use challenges. Some sobering facts set the scene very clearly – did you know that the world’s resource-use rate is outstripping supply by 50%, an unsustainable rate. And equally alarming was the revelation that fossil fuel use has increased globally by 17% between 1985 and 2015, despite the move towards renewables.
It wasn’t all gloom though – it was interesting to hear of innovations including LEDs which use graphene and consume only one fifth of the amount of electricity that an incandescent light bulb would. Plenty of food for thought.
Around the show it was interesting to learn about the efforts of AlFed, the Aluminium Federation, who are keen to raise their profile in the building industry and clearly have a role to play in tandem with organisations like the CAB (Council for Aluminium in Building). Another new organisation for me was the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) – it was great to hear about this movement’s dedication to encouraging the use of materials that are better for us and the environment and I hope they have a strong influence as we continue the drive to greener buildings.
In terms of stand-out products, the super-clear glass on show by Guardian Glass was particularly special. Guardian’s stand featured a display which compared its Clarity product to standard glass – and the result was incredible. The product’s coating bounces light in a very different way to other coatings, ensuring that less light is reflected and instead passes through the glass. Seeing this product in an IGU was interesting too, providing clear (no pun!) evidence that the designers of high-end applications like performance car showrooms and luxury homes have much to gain with this excellent product.